I contemplated posting on the increasing chaos in Southern Iraq, but thought better of it. I mean, really, Iraq is sooo November 2003. Onward to the things that really matter: From Slashdot (which cites Reuters): "the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien won a cybersquatting case against Alberta Hot Rods, a Canadian-based operator which registered jrrtolkien.com and linked it to its commercial celebrity Web site[,] before an ICANN arbitration panel."
The Slashdotters, of course, don't link to the panel's actual decision. We Obwingers, however, revel in pointless detail. So here it is, in all its ICANNy goodness.
Now, for the meaningless digression: The Tolkein arbitration was handled under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization, which has quasi-sorta-jurisdiction over many domain name disputes. WIPO's rules allow the holder of a valid trademark to seek relief against a cybersquatter through a quick-and-dirty arbitration proceeding.*
Doesn't always work as planned, though. Because WIPO is an international organization, an arbitration panel can consist of people from around the world. Many of these people don't speak English as a first language (shocking!). This can lead to some, well, unusual decisions. Such as: Tata Sons Limited v. D&V Enterprises.
Tata Sons, Ltd. is a large Indian utility company. D&V Enterprises owned a website named "bodacious-tatas.com," which provided (one presumes) all manner of bodacious tatas for one's viewing enjoyment. Tata Sons, Ltd. claimed that a person seeking out its utility may confuse D&V's bodacious tatas with its utilities. It sought to take control of D&V's "bodacious tatas.com" domain name.
At this point, you may be thinking that one would have to be pretty damn drunk to confuse a utility with a purveyor of bodacious tatas. That thought, however, did not enter the mind of the WIPO arbitration panel. Its ruling reads, in part:
TATA, without any vestige of doubt, constitutes a famous (or, in international parlance, well known) mark . . . . As to goodwill, the Panel accepts the Complainant’s submission to the effect that the name "TATA" has consistently been associated with the goods and services of, the "House of Tata". . . . the name "TATA" has acquired considerable goodwill.
. . . .
The Complainant contended that the use by the Respondent of the impugned Domain Name is aimed at taking a ‘cash-ride’ on the Complainant’s image and status. Thus, the unauthorized adoption of the Domain Name has resulted in the Respondent deriving, or attempting to derive, monetary benefit by trading on the reputation and goodwill held by the Complainant. The Panel accepts this contention . . . . [and awarded the domain name to the House of Tatas]
Erm, yes: when I think of Tatas, I think of the "House of Tatas," an Indian utility company.
You can't make this stuff up.
*You may ask, "who are these Black-helicopter WIPO types, and what makes them think that they can force me to do anything regarding my domain name?" Well, folks, here's the rub: If you refuse to participate in a proper arbitration, your domain name can be summarily taken from you. It's a vestige of the old internic rules. Sorry.